spirit flows thru -- Alison Rittger's spiritual reflections on finding the holy in the daily
PictureFarmmech by Dana Erland
It was my turn on Sunday at the First Unitarian Universalist church to be the Worship Associate and to speak on the topic, Barriers and Boundaries. After the service in the greeting line with the minister, I met some people pleased with my Reflection, what we now call the five minutes of personal thought that tie into the minister’s sermon and into the theme. One kind woman asked if she could read my words. I knew she could listen to it again in the church’s on line archive, but not read it. I said I would share it in this blog. So it is as follows:

My work in the world is to be the sole employee of the Barriers into Boundaries foundry founded and funded by me for me. Yet meant to benefit all beings. My goal is to approach the end of life free to love from within flexible boundaries by recognizing rigid barriers of habit and reactivity that have kept out love, loving these barriers into protective boundaries.

In part, this business has been inspired by the poet Rumi’s directive: “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” That was my invitation to recognize habits and reactions that walled me in and others out. And I noted that Rumi doesn’t say get rid of the barriers.

In this work I struggle to recognize and accept aspects of myself that once probably served me well, but are no longer skillful or useful. Once these parts transform, in my remaining years I can be so open to life that it lives itself through me while I continue as this particular person who interacts in particular situations. In other words, I don’t expect a complete do-over. 

 I was shocked to discover that I could not honestly say I have ever felt brave or safe enough to stop being hyper vigilant about how others might perceive or judge me as well as how I perceive and judge myself. If it is confidence in one’s personal boundaries that fosters bravery, then I have often substituted bravado, replete with personality quirks that sometimes felt to me as if I were in the bullring, waving the red cape at toro.

I really do know how lacking safety works because for years I have been tackling childhood trauma issues with a therapist trained in somatic experiencing, a kind of non-conversational approach that focuses on the body to locate and release the hold of early terrors that originated in a time preverbal.

On our first appointment, Jane handed me a length of what looked like soft white rope and asked me to place it on the floor, wherever and however large or small I wanted it to be. I did. Then she said this is your space and no others can enter unless you invite them in.

I stood in the center of that circling rope and felt a kind of fierceness rise up. Almost apologetic, I wondered if it was wrong to feel such a protective surge within this circle. I could have growled the way Foxiebeau, my dog does when he protects his territory.

I have noticed that when feeling safe, I can be open and kind, able to face experience with curiosity; whereas from behind barriers, certainty plants the flag and claims the territory for safety’s sake.

I will continue to be curious as to the efficacy of this late-in-life job of reshaping barriers into boundaries. So far so good. I hope it will continue to pay daily dividends and none may find me cold or lacking in compassion.  

gino fortunato
11/9/2015 10:01:43 pm

Thanks Alison. I really enjoyed this from the pulpit, and now from the web site. Keep up the good work!

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